9 Tips for the Best Passover Ever

Follow our tips for a memorable -- and delicious -- Passover Seder

Appetizers

  • Crisp matzoh in the oven by putting three or four sheets on a cookie sheet as the oven heats up for any dish. Leave in five minutes or until warm to the touch, then take out and cool before breaking into serving pieces.
  • You can adapt any non-Passover soup or sauce that uses cornstarch as a thickening by substituting an equal amount of potato starch. In recipes that use bread crumbs or seasoned flour as a coating (such as oven-crisped chicken joints), substitute the same quantity of cake matzoh meal.
  • Turn the traditional hard-cooked eggs in salt water into an unusual starter that can be partly prepared several hours in advance. In a large bowl or soup pot, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2/3 cup of cold water per person. Half an hour before the start of the seder, slice the hard-cooked eggs into the salt water and stir gently, then serve as a cold soup with plenty of oven-crisped matzoh.

Main Course

  • Make a delicious and unusual entree with poached fish served at room temperature, which really takes away the worry and juggling act of timing the main course to be ready at exactly the right moment.
  • Save time and effort on the big day by preparing chicken casseroles the day before; the overnight "rest" also dramatically improves the flavor. Refrigerate the finished casserole in a covered ovenproof serving dish. About an hour before the seder begins, let it come to room temperature, then preheat the oven to 300°F. Just before your guests sit down, put the casserole in the oven. Check it before you serve the eggs in salt water; if it's not steaming hot or beginning to bubble, turn the oven up to 325°F.

Side Dishes 

  • Transform garden-variety veggies such as frozen peas into a sophisticated side dish. Gently saute four finely diced shallots in a little butter or margarine until tender, then add julienned strips of one peeled hothouse cucumber. Toss together and cook for five minutes. Add three cups frozen peas and a sprig of fresh mint (or two teaspoons dried mint), and one teaspoon each of sea salt and sugar. Bubble gently until the peas are cooked, then transfer to a serving dish. Reheat in the microwave, covered, for three to four minutes on full power just before serving.
  • Dress up a simple side salad into a stunning Shades of Green Tossed Salad. Marinate slices of ripe but still firm avocado in your favorite vinaigrette dressing for a few hours. Just before serving, toss with a bowl of crisp mixed leaves (mesclun mix is ideal). Garnish, if you like, with two tablespoons of toasted pine nuts or edible flowers.

Dessert

  • For an easy and refreshing end to a Passover meal, serve a cinnamon-scented fresh fruit compote. Bring to simmering point 2/3 cup orange juice, 2/3 cup sweet red wine (such as kosher wine or Passover port-style wine), 1/4 cup sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice. While still warm, pour over a fresh fruit salad (or frozen berries), chill well and serve in a decorative glass bowl with Passover sponge cake or cookies. 
  • Give friends and family a special treat by baking a batch of homemade cookies. You can make and freeze them three weeks ahead.
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